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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 12 (March 2, 1936)

Among the Books

page 39

Among the Books

A Literary Page or Two

“Robin Hyde” (Miss Iris Wilkinson) is probably the most industrious and successful writer in New Zealand to-day. Her achievement in being included in Macmillan's Contemporary Poets’ series created a small literary sensation in New Zealand. Initial supplies of the book have been completely sold out in New Zealand and cables have been sent for more. “Bronze Archer,” a New Zealand story, the locale of which is in the South Island, has been accepted by Dennis Archer (London). Other books of “Robin Hyde's” which have been either accepted or are under consideration include “The Unbelievers” (a New Zealand phantasy), “Unicorn Pasture” (under consideration by Macmillan's), “These Poor Old Hands” and “Check To Your King.” The last mentioned is a biography of the Baron de Thierry who once claimed to be King of Nukahiva. He founded a tiny “independent state” in the Hokianga and died in Auckland as a music master.

* * *

The enduring reputation of C. J. Dennis, the Australian poet, will not rest solely on “The Sentimental Bloke.” Recently, through Angus & Robertson, Sydney, he produced “The Singing Garden,” which must add tremendously to his popularity as a poet and writer of prose. In his forest home at Toolangi, where he lives in a small earthly paradise at peace with his birds and trees, he has poured out his love of Nature in this collection of poems and essays. He causes each bird in his forest garden to tell his story to the reader, and, of course, being birds, they sing their story in wonderfully simple melodies. The sweet harmony of it all from “Dawn,”

A sunbeam laughing, trips across the lawn
And smiling day is nigh. to “Dusk,”
Now, as the first star in the zenith burns,

The dear soft darkness comes, the reader journeys hand in hand with joyous Nature through the four seasons.

* * *

I can imagine no more suitable author than James Cowan for such a book as “Hero Stories of New Zealand,” recently published by Harry H. Tombs Ltd. (Wellington). This book has filled one of the several big gaps in our New Zealand library. James Cowan, with his vast store of early adventurings in New Zealand and his graphic power of story telling, is the man for the job. Here we have a book, therefore, that will always live and will be read by young and old. The stories are true and cover over a century of New Zealand history. Wonderful yarns of bravery and 1endeavour.
A fine bookplate, designed for Mr. S. H. Jenkinson, by Mr. R. M. Jenkins, of Wellington.

A fine bookplate, designed for Mr. S. H. Jenkinson, by Mr. R. M. Jenkins, of Wellington.

Pakeha and Maori fighters, heroic pioneers, brave, unselfish missionaries play their parts in about forty wonderful yarns. The book should be taken up by every school in New Zealand.

* * *

The development in the book production activities of Messrs. A. H. & A. W. Reed of Dunedin, has been most marked. Particularly interesting has been the attention they have given to the book collecting interests in the Dominion. Witness their latest book. “Recollections and Reflections of an Old New Zealander,” by E. Maxwell, which, at the remarkably low price of 6/-, has been published in a signed numbered edition. Because of the variety of the recollections and sentiments contained in this book, it makes an intensely human document for the reader. The pioneering period, early impressions of Wellington, days in the old force, shrewd comments on Maori and pakeha, an account of two wrecks (the “Harriet” and the “Lord Worsley”), a touch or two of humour in Maori tales, a number of reflections on human and material progress—all complete a most interesting volume. There are a number of excellently reproduced illustrations to a book that is a credit to its enterprising publishers.

* * *

New Zealand book-lovers will be deeply interested in a booklet recently published by A. H. and A. W. Reed (Dunedin and Wellington) entitled “The Maori and His First Printed Books.” The author is A. W. Reed, who, because of the very business he is engaged in, is almost fanatically interested in his subject. Much valuable information is given and the reader is left with the deep impression as to what a tremendous part the missionary has played in the early printing endeavours of the Dominion. The booklet is admirably illustrated.

page 40

“Tui's Annual,” which is produced by “The N.Z. Dairy Exporter,” is the largest issue yet published by that concern. The number consists of over 150 pages of excellent stories, articles, poems and paragraphs, all the work of New Zealand writers. Dominion talent is also well represented on the pictorial side in line illustrations and photographs. All the work is of a high standard. This is one of the few publications in New Zealand giving generous support to Dominion talent so that from this aspect alone its continued progress will be applauded.

* * *

That active little body, The New Zealand Women Writers’ and Artists’ Society recently produced another publication, “The Quill” containing an interesting collection of stories and verse, all the work of its members. In a foreword the secretary (Miss N. E. Donovan) expresses the hope that public interest in the production will be sufficient to justify a monthly or bi-monthly publication. After reading the magazine I will echo Miss Donovan's hope, for the promising material in the publication suggests an early encore.

* * *

Mr. Lindsay Buick has given further evidence of his versatility as a writer in his “Elijah,” which has been published in in chaste booklet form by Thomas Avery & Sons (New Plymouth). Mendelssohn's oratoria is supremely popular the world over and has been produced many times in this country. The story of the work, so interestingly and instructively set forth by Mr. Buick, should find favour with music lovers at home and abroad. The book contains an interesting foreword by Robert Parker who describes the monograph as “Scholarly” and “exhaustive in its completeness.” A feature of the book is its beautifully reproduced illustrations.

* * *


“A Trader in Cannibal Lands,” by James Cowan (A. H. & A. W. Reed, Dunedin and Wellington) tells of the life and adventures of Captain Tapsell. The author states in his introduction that the book is “a memoir of a boldly dramatic figure in New Zealand's history, is an authentic Odyssey of sea-roving and shore-trading adventure.” Tapsell was born in Denmark and took to the sea at an early age, going through many adventures for a period of thirty years. For the succeeding forty years he was a trader among the Maoris. He died in New Zealand over sixty years ago at the great age of ninety-four. Mr. Cowan has lived up to the great material at his disposal and has given us an outstanding volume. The book, which is illustrated, has been nicely turned out by the publishers.

“Hurricane,” by Vance Palmer (Angus & Robertson, Sydney) is a fine story of adventure in Papua. Vance Palmer is one of Australia's best writers, and he has written a gripping novel of the adventures of a likeable human character, one Faulkner, who becomes resident magistrate of one of the wildest districts in Papua. Old Cameron and his daughter are two strongly portrayed characters who exert a tremendous influence in bringing about the “official failure” of the R.M. There is a touch of Conrad in the pen power displayed by the author in describing the hurricane that leads to the ultimate undoing of Faulkner.

“Aces & Kings,” by L. W. Sutherland (Angus & Robertson, Sydney) is a thrilling account of the work of the R.F.C. in Palestine during the War. The author has an original chatty style that somehow conveys a powerful picture of the stirring adventures of himself and his gallant associates. His chapter on Lawrence of Arabia is full of interest. Referring to Lawrence's physical fitness the author states: “He was piano wire, whipcord and eel—and he had a split second brain.” This is another Australian war book that will live. The illustrations are interesting.

“King's Blood,” by Lieut.-Col. W. P. Drury (Rich & Cowan, London; N.Z. agents, Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd.), is a stirring tale of love and adventure during the reign of Queen Anne. The hero has a royal legacy “the bend sinister,” the main theme of the plot being based on the fact that as an infant he changes cradles with a prospective hereditary maniac. The book contains many enthralling happenings (storming the Rock of Gibraltar, pacing the quarter deck with Admiral Byng) in addition to a sweetly told love story. A splendid week-end novel.

“John O’ the Green,” by Jeffry Farnol (Sampson Low; N.Z. agents, Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd), is a charming romance of olden times when another, and possibly more appealing Robin Hood, took on himself a great mission to save several of his companions and himself from the halter. How he succeeded and became the paramount influence in the life of the beautiful Ippolita of Pelynt makes a story that will appeal to everyone. John is a complex lovable personality —a man of arms so that he might be a man of peace. The book is rich in colourful romance and with Farnol as the designing artist the picture is an all satisfying one.

“And Then Came Spring,” by Anne Hepple (Hutchinson, London; N.Z. agents, Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd.), is an unusual novel. The elfish, Espeth Isabel Douglas, is the central figure. Because she runs away from her impossible aunts to live in a quaint cottage offered to her by a friend, she meets with a host of adventures which although of a minor variety, are none the less interesting. Around her adventurings is the beauty of a dawning spring and the more potent beauty of the mutual love of herself and Luke. I would not flatter Anne Hepple by describing her as a feminine Le Gallienne, but she certainly has some of his capacity for finely woven romance.

* * *

“Shibli” Listens In.

Hector Bolitho's latest is “The House In Half Moon Street and Other Stories,” which should arrive from Cobden Sanderson's by the time these notes are published. His Marie Tempest biography is due to be published early this winter.

Trevor Lane, who is one of the youngest editors in New Zealand, has a reputation for knowing what the public wants. He produced one of the finest Christmas numbers of “The Radio Record” in the history of that publication. Like many another fine journalist, he secured his early training on the defunct Christchurch “Sun.”

Mr. C. A. L. Treadwell's “Famous N.Z. Trials,” that ran serially through “The New Zealand Railways Magazine,” have been accepted for publication in book form by Thomas Avery & Sons, New Plymouth.

Gordon Minhinnick, possibly the most popular cartoonist in New Zealand, recently published a further collection of his cartoons. Methinks, if overseas newspaper editors see the book, Minhinnick will not be long with us.

A tip for collectors.—London book firms have recently issued several interesting catalogues of “remainders” containing some remarkable bargains that in a few years should be worth many times the prices now asked.